Pittsburgh is known for its many titans of industry, including Henry Clay Frick.
Frick was born in West Overton Village in western PA and later became the director of US Steel. During his lifetime, Frick’s legacy was one of union-busting during the Homestead Strike near the Carrie Furnace and being one of the men responsible for the devastating Johnstown Flood.
However, in death, Frick has also had a positive impact on Pittsburgh including the large Frick Park and The Frick, a collection of museums at his historic home.
The Frick stands adjacent to Henry Clay Frick’s home, Clayton, where he lived for many years. The facility in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood includes a variety of fascinating museums, most of which are free to visit.
At The Frick, you’ll find two free museums and a free greenhouse. There are also paid tours of Frick’s home that you can take when visiting.
The Frick Art Museum is located nearest to the parking area, so is a logical spot to start your tour of the site.
This art museum is free to visit and is filled with some pretty incredible art. That being said, it is definitely on the small side, so it likely won’t take you too long to visit.
The museum is home to a nice collection of 14th to 18th-century European paintings, and I even saw one work that dated back to the 13th century. These paintings are nicely displayed and visitors can really take their time and enjoy each work since there are a limited number of items to see.
In addition to the two main rooms which feature the museum’s permanent collection of paintings and sculptures, there are also several areas that feature temporary exhibitions. There are also several large tapestries in the museum’s large center rotunda.
Near the art museum, you’ll find the second museum at The Frick: the Car and Carriage Museum.
In this space, you’ll find approximately 20 different vehicles. These include historic carriages from the late 1800s and antique automobiles from the earliest days of gas-powered vehicles through the 1940s.
Some of the vehicles on display were owned and used by the Frick family, while others have been donated over the years. However, they all offer a great chance to see how personal transportation changed in the late 1800s and early 1900s and to learn how people used to get around western Pennsylvania.
My favorite vehicle in the museum was the Bantam Roadster, a blue and red vehicle that was made in nearby Butler, PA, and looks like something straight out of a cartoon.
In addition to these two museums, visitors to The Frick are allowed to explore the 5.5-acres that make up the grounds. One highlight of the land is The Frick’s greenhouse.
The greenhouse is a renovation and reconstruction of the greenhouse that sat on the property when it was owned by the Fricks. The exterior reminded me a bit of the much larger greenhouse at Phipps Conservatory, which sits on the edge of Frick Park in Oakland.
Inside this beautiful and unique spot, you’ll find a variety of interesting plants. In the spring and summer, you can even buy a selection of fruit and vegetable seedlings to take home and put into your own garden.
The home of Henry Clay Frick, Clayton Mansion, is also open for tours throughout the years and offers the chance to learn more about the life of one of Pittsburgh’s most important industrialists.
Unfortunately, during my visit, I was unable to tour the mansion, so I’ll have to revisit the site in the future to check it out.
Ultimately, even if you just tour the free parts of The Frick, as I did, this is a fascinating spot to explore. The combination of beautiful natural scenery, great art, and interesting history make this a neat place to visit if you are looking for free things to do in Pittsburgh.
Looking for even more places to visit nearby? Check out the Nine Mile Run Trail in Frick Park, the Heinz History Center, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10am-5pm
Address: 7227 Reynolds St